China gets a new billionaire every 5 days

Photo: Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images

Asia has reportedly produced a new billionaire every week.

Well, it turns out to be much faster than that.

A new report by UBS and PricewaterhouseCoopers found that one billionaire pops up in Asia every three days, outpacing all other regions in the world.

China accounted for 71% of Asia’s new billionaires in 2015, up from 35% in 2009, according to the report, which has analysed data covering more than 1,300 billionaires over the past two decades.

Of 113 Asian entrepreneurs who reached billionaire status last year, 80 of them are from China, the report says. That’s more than half of the world’s total count.

Last September, the government earmarked innovation reform as a priority. “Promoting entrepreneurship and innovation will offer college graduates opportunities for fair competition no matter where in the country they come from,” Premier Li Keqiang said in a meeting with tech companies.

This fosters a favourable environment for young Chinese entrepreneurs to get rich fast, according to the report.

Here is UBS-PwC:

“Almost half of these came from the technology (19%), consumer & retail (15%) and real estate (15%) sectors. E-commerce businesses are in the ascendancy. At the same time, many of the country’s wealthy are diversifying out of their existing businesses into real estate. Moreover, China’s urbanisation and increasing consumer spending have fostered an environment where businesses are growing fast.”

Outside China, but still in Asia, Hong Kong and India had the highest number of new billionaires at 11 each, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Europe was home to 56 new billionaires. Most European billionaires inherited their wealth, which was almost unchanged from the previous year at $1.3 trillion.

The count of new US billionaires was relatively stagnant. While 41 people achieving billionaire status last year, 36 dropped out of the group, according to the report.

Of note, one key difference between US self-made billionaires and the rest of the world is that they tend to cash out or pass much of their wealth to philanthropies, said Steven Crosby, senior managing director of global private banking and wealth management at PwC.

In Europe, there’s a much stronger family dynasty culture, thanks to a shared vision and clear governance, the report says.

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